Monday, March 2, 2020

A Catalonian Pic Nic at Finca Viladellops with Marcello Desvalls by Philip S. Kampe


Its funny how life is.

My wife, Maria, and I are on holiday in Catalonia (Spain). We came specifically to partake in the Carnival Celebration at the seaside resort town of Sitges, an hour plus from Barcelona.

On our first night in town, we watched the colorful floats of revelers for hours. With jet lag and an appetite, we’ve decided  to take a break from the action and find a restaurant.

Tapas and wine was on our mind. We walked along the beachfront and spotted a restaurant named ‘Pic Nic.’

We entered.

On the menu at ‘Pic Nic’ were both tapas and wine.

The wine list contained many wines and grape varieties we were unfamiliar with. Our curiosity and love of indigenous varieties brought us to the Xarel-lo grape. The wine we chose, Finca Vildellops Xarel-lo was produced by a Catalonian vineyard that we were unfamiliar with, Viladellops,

After a small discussion with our server, we chose the pricier aged (2016) bottle of finca Viladellops Xarel-lo ($26) and bypassed  the first level Viladellops Xarel-lo at $16. A few minutes later, our tapas reached the table at the same time as the white wine.

When poured, the wine had a golden color, similar to an aged wine of ten to twenty years. On the palate, the wine was fresh, crisp and balanced with perfect acidity. The presence of saline on the palate and the nose  attracted my attention. Was the vineyard on the sea or just miles away? The dominance of the saline made me curious.

We finished the bottle and the tapas, knowing that we would come back the next day to try another selection of of finca Viladellops at the ‘Pic Nic’ restaurant.

Needless to say, we returned to ‘Pic Nic,’ ordered a bottle of finca Viladellops red wine, a mix of Grenache, Carignan, Syrah and Merlot ($17). The first taste found saline alive  on my mid-palate and in my nose.  That was very unusual for a red blend.

Next stop, research this vineyard, finca Viladellops and try to schedule a visit.

Fast forward three days.
We visited their website: and scheduled a visit with owner Marcello Desvalls. The Premium visit is 40euro and an intensive visit, for 150euro, is with the owner. I had to learn about the saline and a visit with Mr. Desvalls would solve my worries.

As luck would have it, one of our Catalonian wine friends volunteered to drive us to the vineyard, which is located, by the way, only ten miles (15km) from the Mediterranean Sea (clue #1).

We arrived, met Marcello Desvalls and immediately got into his Jeep and drove to one of the vineyard plots,  where he stopped, we got out of the car and he said, ‘look at the soil.’ We did and within a few seconds, I found a half dozen oyster shells. He smiled and said, ‘here is your saline.’
The clay is full of high levels of carbon and sediment from the sea that once existed where the vineyard is today.

Problem solved.

Marcello went on to say the vineyards hills are made of calcareous soil that is full of marine fossils. And that’s when he began to tell us about the history of the vineyard and why his wines character begins with the terroir paired with local grape varieties,.

Viladellops focuses on Grenache (red) and Xarel-lo (white). All the wines are organic.

The winery is located in the natural park, Massis del Garraf, within a short distance of the Olerdola Castle in Penedes, Catalonia.

Historically, the vineyard of 150 acres (60 hectares) has been in the family since 1877. The estate is 1000 acres (400 hectares) in size.

Marcello took over the vineyard in 1999. He is passionate about the property and his family’s place in history, ‘The Desvalls and Catalonia,’ is an exhibit on the property that follows the history of Catalonia through a family archive that consists of 4,529 parchments dating back to 981 A.D.

Marcello Desvalls respects the land and sustainability. His legacy is Finca Viladellops. He shared
the wines from finca Viladellops with us and without doubt, his wines show the passion and sustainability that is his creed. Yes, saline exists in his wines, as well as terroir.

Search out his wines, like I did.
Close to a 100,000 bottles are produced yearly.
Seven wines are in the market or can be purchased directly online.
The wines that were sampled were:
Turo de les abelles
L.D. Ancestral
Finca Viladellops Xarel lo XXX
Finca Viladellops Negre
Viladellops Xarel-lo
Viladellops Garnatxa

After spending five hours with Marcello Desvalls, we could spend a week detailing his stories about wine, his family history and why he chose this path. Instead, I’ll leave it to up to you to meet him and learn about his passion.

You never know what happens when you order a bottle of wine in a restaurant. This is what happened to us when we visited the ‘Pic Nic’ restaurant in Sitges, Spain.

Finca Viladellops-Cellar Gran. Viladellops
08734 Olerdola
(+34) 93 81 8188371

                                                    Marine fossils create saline
                                                       Marcello Desvalls

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